Published: May 21, 2023

Nevada lottery bill passes Senate committee, now awaits for floor vote

A Nevada Senate committee passed on Thursday a bill to amend the constitution to allow a state-run lottery. Now headed to the floor of the Legislature, the legislation would end a ban on non-charity lotteries, in place since Nevada achieved statehood in 1864.

If passed, the bill, titled the Assembly Joint Resolution (AJR) 5, would enable the legislature to establish a state-sponsored lottery. Under the plan, which faces opposition from sectors of the state casino industry, charitable groups would still be able to run lotteries.

Because the bill amends the constitution, should it be approved at the floor vote, it would have to be passed again by the 2025 Legislature and would then be put to a vote by state residents. A hearing date on the floor has not been set yet.

On Thursday, the two Nay votes came from Sen. Heidi Seevers-Gansert and Sen. Lisa KrasnerFox5Vegas cited Gansert as stating: “I will be a no. We have an industry in this state that is the best in the world and they have invested billions of dollars in bricks and mortar and infrastructure and employ hundreds of thousands of people indirectly and direct. So I’m concerned this will deteriorate their industry.”

Nevada's casino industry believes a lottery would hurt their operations

One of the main reasons behind Nevada being a no-lottery state is its casinos, whose owners believe that bringing in such form of gambling would threaten the state's economy by hurting their resort businesses, resulting in job losses, and reduced tax revenue.

Senator Krasner also did not vote in favor of AJR 5, noting: “I will also be voting no on AJR 5. As we all know, tourism, gaming, and mining are the largest industries in the state of Nevada and they provide so many jobs to the people of Nevada. We don’t want the brick-and-mortar establishments to have to compete with the lottery and so I will be voting no.”

Committee Chair Sen. James Ohrenschall voted in favor of the bill, saying: 
“I’m going to be supporting AJR 5. I think we’ve certainly heard testimony with concerns from our gambling industry but we also heard testimony that a lot of folks who drive to some of our border communities to buy lottery tickets don’t usually go to gamble.”

The bill is also being backed by The Culinary Union, which noted that public money from a lottery could be directed to youth mental health initiatives. Supporters also argue the bill would keep money in-state that is currently spent on lottery tickets bought in California and Arizona.

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